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FG to set up panel to monitor COVID-19 fund usage

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The Federal Government will soon constitute a special committee to monitor the disbursement of donations made by individuals, corporate organizations and public sector players towards addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, confirmed the development during an interview with journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.

She said members of the committee would be made up of individuals from both the private and public sectors.

Ahmed said the need to monitor the usage of the funds had become compelling to ensure transparency and accountability.

She said while the Presidential Task Force and the Accountant-General ’s office would be saddled with the responsibility of disbursement, the separate committee would be in charge of ensuring that the fund was effectively used.

The Nigeria Private Sector Coalition Against COVID- 19 had realized N 21.58 bn towards the fight against COVID- 19 as of Monday.

The minister said members of the cabinet had agreed that 50 percent of their salaries should be donated to the fund, while members of the National Assembly had agreed to donate three months of their salaries to tackle the pandemic.

Ahmed said, “ We need to track those funds separate from the spending of the Federal Government.
“ We need to be able to clearly define which project is done by this private sector fund so that there would be visibility.

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“ We have opened an account where funding can be donated from both the private sector and individuals. We also have accounted for public sector donations for ministers.

“ We want to be able to determine how much has come into the accounts and what they have been applied to.

“ We are also looking at putting in place an independent steering committee that will monitor the use of those funds .”

On why the Federal Government was not providing a grant to the private sector, the finance minister said limited funding available to the Federal Government had made it difficult to do so.

She, however, explained that the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria had designed various initiatives to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the private sector.

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